In Syria, government military aircraft targeted rebel-held districts in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 15 people according to opposition activists. In parallel, Damascus announced that it had retaken control of the key Damascus – Homs supply highway after gaining ground in the battle for the strategic Qalamoun region. London and Washington decided to suspend all non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition fearing that military equipment may fall under the control of Islamic radical groups. The decision is a clear blow to the already weakened Syrian opposition ahead of the planned Geneva II peace talks that are still in limbo. Meanwhile, the number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries now stands at over 2.3 million as the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen in a region hit by a severe winter storms.
In the Philippines, OCHA now estimates that about 14.1 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan, including 4.1 million people who remain displaced, the majority of whom are sheltering outside the designated evacuation centres. The latest report from the Philippines authorities indicates that, as a result of the disaster, over 16 million people were affected, 6,000 people were killed, 27,000 were injured and over 1,770 are still missing. Despite the ongoing response, UN organizations reported that acute humanitarian needs remained in affected areas, notably in remote areas outside the main urban centres. To date, humanitarian actors stress in particular the need for short and medium-term shelter solutions that need to be provided before the start of the rainy season in January.
In Central African Republic, the security situation remains extremely volatile, especially in the northwest region. In the capital Bangui, fighting has eased after several days of heavy clashes that resulted in over 530 people being killed and 189,000 people being displaced. An estimated 680,000 IDPs are scattered across the country, with this figure expected to rise in the coming days. In addition, 1.3 million people in CAR are classified as food insecure, a figure expected to rise in 2014 with the lean season predicted to start as early as January-February instead of May.
In Kenya, tribal fighting between the Borana community and a joint force of the Burji and Gabra tribes on the north-central border with Ethiopia caused an estimated 41,000 refugees to flee into Ethiopia. The violence erupted in the flashpoint border districts of Marsabit and Moyale.
Last Updated: 17/12/2013 Next Update: 07/01/2014